We must be greener – min­istry

The Dominion Post - - News - GED CANN

The En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry has rub­bished New Zealand’s clean, green im­age and poked holes in the Emis­sions Trad­ing Scheme in a frank brief­ing pa­per to in­com­ing Cli­mate Change Min­is­ter James Shaw.

Nat­u­ral re­sources have been pushed to ‘‘crit­i­cal bound­aries’’ by the econ­omy’s reliance on ex­port­ing raw ma­te­ri­als, and the Emis­sions Trad­ing Scheme (ETS) is ‘‘not fit for pur­pose’’, the doc­u­ments say.

They rec­om­mend the Gov­ern­ment in­clude agri­cul­ture in the ETS, and de­velop a plan to cre­ate a low-car­bon econ­omy.

They also crit­i­cise the pre­vi­ous Na­tional Gov­ern­ment’s ret­ro­spec­tive ap­proach to haz­ard man­age­ment – such as floods, droughts and coastal ero­sion – say­ing that ac­tions needed to be­come more for­ward-look­ing. The brief­ing pa­pers, re­leased yes­ter­day, made the fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions:

"Cli­mate change ... has con­trib­uted to re­cent droughts, floods and in­creased risk of coastal haz­ard." The En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry

Im­prove the ETS

The cur­rent ET scheme, in­tended to re­duce emis­sions by plac­ing a price on car­bon, is ‘‘not fit for pur­pose’’. The Gov­ern­ment should im­ple­ment im­prove­ments ‘‘to make it a more ef­fec­tive and cred­i­ble tool for in­cen­tivis­ing emis­sion re­duc­tions’’.

To do so, it should fully im­ple­ment plans to in­tro­duce auc­tions of car­bon units to align the sys­tem with cli­mate change tar­gets; limit the use of in­ter­na­tional units when the mar­ket re­opens to cred­its from abroad; and de­velop a dif­fer­ent price ceil­ing to re­place the $25 fixed-price op­tion.

These changes would al­low the Gov­ern­ment to align the sup­ply of car­bon units with emis­sion tar­gets, and make the ETS more com­pat­i­ble with trad­ing schemes in other coun­tries.

Agri­cul­ture in ETS

Cur­rent tar­gets un­der the Paris Agree­ment re­quire New Zealand to re­duce its emis­sions to 30 per cent be­low 2005 lev­els by 2030.

The min­is­te­rial brief­ings note New Zealand’s emis­sions pro­file is unique among de­vel­oped na­tions, with about half its emis­sions stem­ming from agri­cul­ture.

They rec­om­mend con­sid­er­a­tion of the full range of policy op­tions for re­duc­ing agri­cul­tural meth­ane and ni­trous ox­ide emis­sions.

Im­prove haz­ard readi­ness

Adap­ta­tions to nat­u­ral haz­ards such as floods, droughts and coastal ero­sion have been re­ac­tive, and plan­ning needs to be­come more proac­tive, ‘‘given the longterm and wide-rang­ing na­ture of cli­mate change im­pact’’.

‘‘To date, the main fo­cus of the min­istry’s work has been on cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion. How­ever, even if emis­sions dropped to zero to­mor­row, some cli­mate change im­pacts are al­ready locked in.

‘‘Cli­mate change has caused New Zealand to warm by about 1 de­gree Cel­sius over the last cen­tury, and has con­trib­uted to re­cent droughts, floods and in­creased risk of coastal haz­ard.’’

Pro­tect nat­u­ral re­sources

The pa­pers note New Zealand’s tra­di­tional growth model is based on the ex­port of pri­mary prod­ucts, which is start­ing to show its en­vi­ron­men­tal con­straints, ex­ac­er­bated by pop­u­la­tion growth, higher vis­i­tor num­bers, and ur­ban ex­pan­sion. It lists a num­ber of re­ports show­ing pres­sure is mount­ing on cli­mate, fresh­wa­ter, the marine en­vi­ron­ment, and land.

Move to low-car­bon econ­omy

The Gov­ern­ment should de­velop a plan to tran­si­tion to a low-car­bon econ­omy. This is backed up by a 2017 OECD en­vi­ron­men­tal policy re­view that rec­om­mended New Zealand de­velop a strate­gic plan to achieve the 2030 Paris Agree­ment tar­get.

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